Erickson’s latest *historical entertainment* (her words) covers the life of Mary Queen of Scots from the time she was married to Francis and became Queen Consort of France, her return to Scotland as Queen after she is widowed, her marriage to the despicable Darnley and his murder, her subsequent marriage to Bothwell and her eventual imprisonment by Elizabeth I. It’s all known history and I needn’t spend much time rehashing it because Erickson totally reinvents it anyway – and quite badly I might add.
***Spoiler warning – that is if anyone really cares***
Let’s see, where shall I begin? The prologue wherein Bothwell and their invented by Erickson secret daughter that no one knew existed witness Mary’s execution? The Queen of France dressing up as a peasant and going to taverns to spy on Bothwell? More? Bothwell dressing up as a peddler and visiting Mary off and on during her captivity (remember now, history says he was imprisoned and died in Denmark)? Better yet, he’s able to get her alone in the stillroom and make whoopee (more than once I might add and never ever got caught). More? Representatives from the Pope manage to get Mary away from where she was being held and take her to Rome where she meets with the Pope and they plan a crusade to oust Elizabeth from the throne (no, I am not making this up). Of course the plot fails when Don John is called back to save Rome from the Infidels and the whole army just ups and leaves her alone and she has to travel back to grandmamma’s home all by herself on a horse (maybe I missed something but I swear she was alone – not even a lady or two to attend her).
I’d go on, but you get the picture. Perhaps there are people who like their history made up and ridiculous but I’ve yet to meet one. Worse yet, this made up history is so badly written with no character development, poor dialogue – egad Bothwell’s nickname for her is “Orange Blossom” (ugh).
I’ll just finish this off with a few quotes from the author’s notes,
“Readers eager to uncover the factual truth of the past, that ever elusive goal of historians, must look elsewhere than in these pages, where “thick-coming fancies” crowd out sober evidence and whimsy prevails.”
“Yet in whimsy, at times, is to be found a richer truth than in the tantalizingly fragmented, often untrustworthy historical record.”
Hate to say it, but this isn’t even entertaining. It’s just bad, unbelievably bad. Only if the library has it and you’re looking for a good laugh or a sleeping pill. Seriously.